Body Language Fails

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Anne Weeks
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We are all guilty of not paying attention to what messages we are sending physically. We may be verbally engaged, but if our body language sends a different message, the receiver will notice.


Forbes  shares the most common body language fails that can block your success:

  1. Posture: When you don’t stand or sit tall, you send a message of disinterest in, as well as disrespect for, the person with whom you are interacting. By exhibiting good posture, you not only indicate focus, but you also take control of your personal space and send a message of confidence.
  2. Being Demonstrative: If you are used to making a point with big hands and big arms, tone it down a bit. Attracting attention by “talking with your hands” can suggest you are exaggerating the truth.
  3. Checking Your Watch/Phone: Checking either device while talking to someone suggests you are not interested and have better things to do. It is a sure sign of disrespect.
  4. Not Leaning In: To demonstrate total engagement, you want to lean in slightly towards the person with whom you are speaking. Any turning away or leaning back suggests lack of engagement and interest.
  5. Crossing Arms: Even if this is something you do naturally, and it is comfortable, it sends a message you aren’t open to what the other person is saying. Crossed arms are bad body language 101.
  6. Facial Expression/Words: Make sure your facial expression accurately reflects the words coming out of your mouth. Otherwise, people will not trust what you are saying.
  7. Nodding: This may be counterintuitive, but if you nod too much, it will seem insincere.
  8. Playing With Your Hair: This can, again, demonstrate disinterest, but it can also send the message that you are not professional.
  9. Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact sends a message of interest and confidence. Looking down, away, or up sends just the opposite message, and, in fact, looking away when questioned can signal you are lying.
  10. Eye Contact 2: Maintaining sustained eye contact, however, can send a message of aggression.
  11. Eye-Rolling: Never, ever do it. It is entirely disrespectful and cannot be taken back.
  12. Handshaking: This is actually one to practice with a friend. You want your handshake to be firm, not limp, but not so strong as to hurt a person’s hand. You do not want to use a “pastor’s handshake,” but rather, a full handshake: Master a business handshake.
  13. A Clenched Fist Or Jaw: Both send the message of tenseness or aggravation.
  14. Invading Personal Space: Be sure to give the person with whom you are interacting plenty of personal space. A minimum of 3 feet is best.

Want to learn how to read the body language of others? Read more here.


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Anne Weeks

Anne Macleod Weeks is a graduate of Lawrence and Villanova Universities. She has been an educational administrator and English teacher for 38 years, specializing in the area of college admission. Ms. Weeks has been a leader in the college admission and Advanced Placement arenas and has published on pertinent educational topics in a variety of national papers and journals. She currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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